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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 6-5-23 at 6PM EDT

Getting a little too dry in Kentucky...

I mentioned in my last update that the latest seasonal drought outlook for summer 2023 didn't point to any major worries in term of drought, is a 3-month outlook and if we go two weeks without rain in the middle of summer, we're having a much different conversation. Well....maybe I should have knocked on wood!

We just saw a second straight week of mostly dry conditions across the Commonwealth and it doesn't look great for rain prospects moving forward (at least in the short term). Below is a look at a couple maps, one showing observed precipitation over the past couple weeks and the other, departure-from-normal precipitation. Overall, the state has only averaged 0.28 inches over the past 14 days, which is almost 2 inches below normal. Unless you got lucky and hit on some of the isolated activity last week, a large chunk of Kentucky has struggled to even hit a tenth of an inch over the past 14 days. Western KY has only averaged 0.06 inches during that timespan. Many didn't even record a drop, including the Hopkinsville, Greenville, and Princeton Mesonet stations; just to name a few.

The only exception to the dry pattern has been across far Eastern KY, which saw a decent rainfall event last Sunday (5/28). In just one example, the Pike County Mesonet station recorded 2.26 inches!

In addition to the lack of rainfall, summer-like temperatures have also returned to the area. Most everyone rose into the upper 80s to low 90s this past weekend. Normal highs are only supposed to be in the low to mid 80s for this time of year. Low dewpoints made the heat bearable from the human perspective, but for crops, a "dry heat" isn't necessarily a good thing. Evapotranspiration rates will rise with low humidity in place. This was the case back in 2012.

As you can imagine, impacts of the dry conditions are on the rise and the U.S. Drought Monitor is taking notice. Below is a look at the latest update from last Thursday, showing the entirety of the Midwest. The spatial coverage of 'Abnormally Dry' conditions increased by nearly 40% in one weeks time. In Kentucky alone, nearly 45% of the state is now considered 'abnormally dry' as soil moisture continues to diminish and stream flows run much lower-than-normal. In fact, 53% of Kentucky topsoil moisture is now considered short to very short according to the latest KY Crop Progress and Condition Report. This is about a 30% retrograde from last week. If there is some good news....wheat drydown should move along quicker this year with the lower humidity in place.

Speaking of drought impacts, the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) can use your help in shaping the weekly map below by submitting your own reports. This can be done by using the Drought Impact Reporter or feel free to send me an email at The more information we can get, the better! Pictures are very much welcomed!

Unfortunately, the map above will likely take a step in the wrong direction with this week's update (6/8/23). We do have some rain chances in the forecast tomorrow night and into Wednesday ahead of a cold front, but not everyone will benefit. Below is a look at the latest forecast rainfall totals over the next three days. Currently, the eastern half of Kentucky looks to benefit the most where models are showing a swath of accumulations ranging from a quarter to a half inch+. Unfortunately, they also point toward Western KY missing out again....

After a couple days of dry conditions, comfortable temperatures, and low humidity; rain chances look to return over the second half of the weekend. Saying that, there's still too much uncertainty at the moment for specifics. I'm holding out hope as some models are pointing toward a healthy rainfall. Fingers-crossed that it pans out! It does seem to line up well with the 6-10 day precipitation outlook below which leans toward a period of above normal rainfall and below normal temperatures. I'm not taking it to the bank yet, but let's think more in the way of "glass half full"! Rain dances, commence!

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Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, May 22, 2023

June edition of the KY Monthly Climate Perspective on Drought and Hydrologic Conditions Webinar Series - Kentucky Climate Center, June 1, 2023

NOAA predicts a near-normal 2023 Atlantic hurricane season - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, May 25, 2023

Have you Herd? Podcast, Episode 56: Horse Barn Ventilation – Drs. Morgan Hayes, Josh Jackson, and Staci McGill, UK Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, May 25, 2023

2023 Pest Management Field Day Slated for June 29 at Princeton - Jason Travis, UK Agriculture Extension Associate, May 30, 2023

Reports of True Armyworm in Hay in Central & Western Kentucky - Dr. Ric Bessin, UK Extension Entomology Specialist, May 23, 2023


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